Sunday, April 08, 2007

Truest statement of the week

They did not offer protests. They did not offer calls for an end to the war. Their candlelight vigils were meek and weak efforts that honestly remind me of the Ellen James movement in John Irving's The World According To Garp only no one need cut out a tongue because has no intention of using a voice.

-- Ruth addressing in her latest report.

A Note to Our Readers

Hey --
Sketch to be filled in with a note.

We switched templates. We did that because we wanted to post a video (read on). After the switch, that Blogger/Blogspot would allow us to post the video, the "widget" that was supposed to be visible wasn't.

We'll continue playing with the template. In switching it, we lost all links except The Common Ills. Dona, Ty and me, Jim, spent about a half-hour putting the links back in. They never showed. As we type the note, we have added some links. We will continue to add more -- as the week goes by. "Was it a blog purge?" No. It was switching a template. Some that were on the link list won't be back. Some we no longer have use for, some involved a link exchange and then they either never followed up or delinked shortly after they got their link. We didn't have time or want to make time to pull those people. We thought they were small and petty. (At best.) But now that the links are wiped out, you can be damn sure we won't be going to the trouble of putting those back on our list.

Ty, Ava and C.I. read some of the e-mails (some) from regular readers this evening (and only names they recognized). We'll try to answer the questions as we go through. (Yes, there's one big topic, no surprise.)

The following helped with this edition:

The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Jess, Ty, Ava and Jim,
Rebecca of
Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude,
Betty of
Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man,
C.I. of
The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review,
Kat of
Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills),
Cedric of
Cedric's Big Mix,
Mike of
Mikey Likes It!,
Elaine of
Like Maria Said Paz,
and Wally of
The Daily Jot

If you're late, welcome! We're always late. We've actually been later in posting new content than we were today. But we did make a point to take a lengthy break. We'll go into it in a bit. But thank you to all of the above for their help. Thank you to Dallas for his help as soundboard (we used him more as that than as link locator -- those who wonder about the number of links, that wasn't our issue this week, it wasn't pressing). We thank Rebecca for photo shopping the one new visual we used this week.

New content?

Message from Jim, Dona and Ty -- The three of us explain what's going on. We weren't planning to do that. Most people know we'll be late. ("As usual," wrote T.L.) But because we (the three of us) had switched the template and lost all the links, we figured we better post something or people might say, "No new content. And links are gone. Are they shutting shop?"

Highlights -- Mike, Elaine, Rebecca, Betty, Cedric and Wally wrote this and we thank them for it.

The winners are -- The winning video is worth checking out. We love that video. C.I. phoned midweek telling us to check out the video. We did, finally, on Friday. It's really great and this is the video we really wanted to post on our site. Congratulations to the winners.

The Nation Stats -- You can round up or round down, but throughout the year thus far, The Nation continues their pattern of one female byline for every four. Publish or perish? The Nation must want to kill off women, especially since they achieved the 'feat' of publishing an entire issue without one female credited in an article's byline. How proud they must be. The Nation has a woman as editor and publisher. Those who think that some woman, any woman, being placed in charge means advances for all women should really be following the numbers. When this issue was brought to C.I.'s attention (by friends, including some with the magazine) last year, it was stated that under a man, The Nation offered more articles by women. Every time this feature runs, we hear from readers and we also hear from the press. On the latter, while the congrats are nice, why aren't you covering it?

Roundtable -- C.I. had a bad feeling. Trust the gut. Early on, Rebecca admitted that she felt left out when Elaine started her site (Rebecca plans to write about that tomorrow -- she will write about it this week, we told her the number of e-mails that had already come in). We were all surprised (except Elaine and C.I.) and, afterwards, all agreed we figured that was the thing that would get the most comments until . . . "Jess just exploded," wrote Pam. Yes, he did. And we all understand why. We don't blame him. Bob Somerby couldn't get away with that crap if he was basing it on race. But he wants to create a false stereotype and blame people, scapegoat them. He's a sick ___. (C.I. insisted "___" be used.) We all roll our eyes about B.S. He's compromised himself and we've addressed that before. So when we learned of the Friday post from readers, we were rolling our eyes and thinking, "What an idiot." All except Jess. In retrospect, we should have caught that ourselves. We're sorry we didn't catch it. (Ava knew Jess was upset by it, she had no idea he was that upset.) B.S. is linked to by Mike, Rebecca and C.I. C.I.'s pulled him as we write, Mike and Rebecca will as well. This is not just that B.S. was wrong. He's been wrong before. This is a case of him stereotyping. (Ava may address B.S. next week. If you think she said all she had to say in the roundtable, you are mistaken.) His comments were wrong, that happens frequently. The fact that he was attempting to create a group of people to tar and feather is why we have no use for him, not even for cheap laughs (which is what we understand is all he gets on the third-tier comedy circuit). C.I. wants it noted that Betty deserves a huge thanks. Read the roundtable. Betty's just keeping it going and going. Betty and Wally. Dona, Ty and me (Jim) broke away to figure out what to do because there was the choice of wrapping up quickly or just leaving it there. That wasn't due to Jess as much as it was due to our all feeling bad that we hadn't grasped how hurtful B.S. was. Jess didn't want to speak, Ava and C.I. had already waived off speaking and pointed to their pads (they do the transcription of the roundtables and any other feature that starts with us discussing it). Betty and Wally really stepped up and kept it going, so thank you to them for that. (Thank you to everyone but it was Betty and Wally -- who each pulled one early statement they'd made -- if that was included, you'd see exactly how they kept it going.) Betty said we could note that she shared a personal memory of when it was made very clear to her, by a White person, that she was seen as 'different' and "less" because of her race. We really did think this would be an easy roundtable, except for C.I. (who still hasn't said "I told you so.").

Your Guide to the Horse Race -- the roundtable was done early. Ava and C.I. had done their TV thing, we'd done an interview. We had other pieces semi-started and planned. We had illustrations for them. That all went into the trashcan after the roundtable. C.I. suggested we all take a break. Betty and Cedric wanted to be a part of the full edition to show solidarity with Jess so they asked that we regroup after they were done with church. So we took our break. When we got back, we were tossing around ideas, the planned edition was over. Someone suggested this. Jess liked the idea and C.I. said, "I am only participating in this because of Jess."
We're not planning to do handicapping. Our contribution was to note how, election cycle after election cycle, the the gas bags waste time and the object of their gas bagging crashes and burns.
Thomas e-mailed that Obama comes off poorly and notes that C.I. ("who doesn't endorse") had comments about Obama before. C.I. made those comments before Obama was in the race. The piece contains no endorsement. We're not Hillary fans. She comes off better than anyone. (Thomas and others have e-mailed to note that.) We're commenting on the system itself. How it tends to play out, cycle after cycle. As to Obama, if you're unfamiliar with the fact that his campaign in 2004 faced only one serious rival, wake up. If you're under the impression that the one rival decided to embarrass himself and his ex-wife, wake the hell up. If you're under the impression that squeaky clean Obama's campaigns aren't littered with those sorts of 'events,' you're in a coma. But as to it being a non-endorsement of Obama, we called Betty for a reply (as Thomas requested). Here's Betty's response: "Obama runs trash campaigns. That's a fact. Noting it doesn't mean he's not endorsed. Sometimes you need the trash man to take out the trash." The illustration? We have very few visuals. When this was agreed upon, C.I. said, "Hold on." Kat had mentioned the Laura Nyro song and suggested we use it. C.I. went off to the bedroom and came back with this t-shirt. We scanned it. It's from the 1992 Clinton-Gore campaign.

Talking with Ruth -- Done early Saturday night so Ruth didn't have to stay up. This is very popular in the e-mails and why not? Ruth's a great woman. Thank you to Ruth and thank you to Brady for the e-mail to C.I. and Ruth that led to this interview.

TV: The not-so-universal White Boy blues -- "Where is the illustration?" That came up a great deal. It's generally known that Jess and Rebecca did the regular illustartion. Had it been dropped? If so, why? Was it because of the roundtable? Yes. Yes, because of the roundtable we dropped the illustartion, because of the roundtable, Ava broke up with Jess, because of the roundtable, we've, in fact, banished Jess. No! We all agree with Jess. Our only regret is that we didn't catch what he caught ourselves. The illustration was pulled because we had publishing problems. After everything was done, it took about two hours just to get it to publish. The text of the commentary? We get it, okay, you love Ava and C.I.! Seriously, we love them too. Dee Dee wrote that it "is so strange that the former Pax had to move a show from the seventies back an hour and it's even stranger that this didn't get attention from others. Now they've dropped the show and given us another boy's life tale. When I started reading, I wasn't sure what to expect. I think they carried the theme off very well and that there are multiple themes. It's my favorite." Dee Dee, you were far from alone. Ava and C.I. trash everything they write so none of us were surprised when they told us, "This is our worst. No one will like it." As usual, they were wrong on the reaction by a huge margin.

Editorial: Shameful -- Most know exactly who the unnamed is. We weren't surprised. If you follow the issue, you know who we're speaking of. We, however, did not want to spoon feed those who would trumpet it.

Truest statement of the week -- Harvey loved this and wrote that he had forgotten about The World According to Garp and felt this was the perfect comparison for

See you next week.

-- Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava and C.I.

Editorial: Shameful

We'll be really kind and not name names but someone minimized hugely last week, at the start of the week, and by the end of the week, the minimization became more obvious.

We'll note that the speaker took great strides to defend the Canadian police and noted that facts weren't known. Even offered a vague, 'We don't know who's lying.' That seemed addressed at
Winnie Ng who, for the record, is not a professional liar. The comments were shameful and embarrassing, they were uninformed and it was all that sadder considering the source.

Well Winnie Ng is not a liar. We never thought otherwise. But even the one casting aspertions must have been red faced when The Toronto Globe and Mail reported that Ng was visited by three men. Who were the three men posing as Canadian police and attempting to locate US war resister Joshua Key?

Toronto police spokesman Mark Pugash confirmed this week the affiliations of the three men who visited Ms. Ng. Initially, Toronto police said none of their officers were involved, but after a further search they found that an officer did in fact accompany two military men.
But Mr. Pugash stressed that the police officer was not acting in any investigative capacity, but was simply assisting the men. There was absolutely no effort on the part of the police officer to mislead Ms. Ng into thinking all three men were with Toronto police, he added.

Now who's the liar? Ng who has been consistent with her statements from day one or the police who denied involvement and now wants to assert that Ng must have heard wrong because "no effort on the part of the police officer to mislead" was made?

The police that lied once now lied twice. Ng has been consistent. It's the police who continue to change their story. And it's the domestic media in the United States who continue to ignore this story and the similar story of Kyle Snyder, pulled out of his home in his boxers, handcuffed and tossed into a jail because Canadian police elected to take orders from the US military.

In Canada this is becoming a bigger issue and the latest twist by the police of "Oops, one of us were involved but we did not mislead" will only add to that.

It's not a deportable offense in Canada to self-check out of the US military.

With Key the claim by the US military is that they wish to discuss with him the contents of his book The Deserter's Tale. Though that may prove to be true, the reality is that the US military lied to Kyle Snyder when he returned. The reality is that Jeffry House, Key's attorney, has contacted the US military supposedly interested in just speaking to Key and the US military has refused to return his calls.

The reality is that the issue in Canada is fastly becoming one of whether it is in fact a nation-state or merely an annex of the US. The latest round of explanations, the latest "Oops! We were there, we did cooperate!" won't diminish those concerns.

We think it's a real shame that when someone had a platform to address the issues, and a host welcome to them, he instead elected to cave, to appear 'reasonable,' to cast asperstions on Ng and to act like a water carrier instead of a leader.

We would be more shocked were it not for the fact that the host of the program that invited the guest on was obviously shocked by the weak ass statements being made, by the coverage being offered. At one point, the host attempted to introduce the topic of the United States spying in Canada on peace activists. The guest insisted that wasn't the case when it was the case and had been reported by the Washington Post.

We have no idea why someone was so cowardly and craven or why they came off so hostile. But a leader leads and, if that's leadership, someone needs to step down.

Our sympathies to Ng who was inferred to be a liar. Ng is one of the many people who have put their principles into practice. She and her family opened their home to war resisters seeking refuge in Canada. Her thanks for that should not include a weak ass man attempting to side with the police and suggest that Ng lied about the visit of three men stating they were the police officers.

Again, at the end of the week, the police confirmed that three men did visit Ng's home. They confirmed that one was indeed a police officer. They now want to state that they were wrong before but the truth now, cross their hearts, is that no one misled Ng into thinking all three were police officers.

The only one who has remained consistent has been Ng. We have no reason to doubt her. We think it's really sad that a friend to the movement, for whatever reasons, took to the airwaves last week to imply she was a liar and that no one visited her home.

We think there's no excuse for him not to know the details of Kyle Snyder's arrest. We strongly suggest that he rethink his most recent appearance and figure out whether he is attempting to help war resisters or if he's merely trying to cozy up to the powerful. He was provided with a welcoming forum where the host was voicing much stronger criticism than he was. That's the sort of thing that prolongs the illegal war and you can pair it up with those Party Hacks in the US who tell Americans to be "reasonable" and cheer Congress for every symoblic step.

TV: The not-so-universal White Boy blues

2007, we were old beyond our years. A lot happened that year. The Bully Boy was still terrorizing America and the rest of the world. The Iraq war passed the fourth year mark. Dems in Congress sought applause for hitting meaningless notes with nothing to back them up, kind of like the contestants on the popular high school talent show American Idol. We logged so many TV hours our eyes felt burned with test patterns . . . but we'll get to that. There's no pretty way to put this: We were living in a world with little substance and little meaning. We guess some people think of trivia as the height of of awareness, with all the disadvantages of reality, and none of the advantages of informed life. But, in a way, those truly were awful years.
As the White House telegraphed, it was a golden age for Bullies.

Religious ones had bullied the former Pax network until they stopped airing Charlie's Angels, apparently moving it to a later time slot hadn't calmed them down any. So desperate for something inoffensive to air, they went with The Wonder Years.

It was 1988, ABC was deep in the sixties. Like most networks, they'd done all they could to avoid dealing with Iran-Contra so a double helping of the sixties might give them some sense of 'awareness.' China Beach was the drama, Wonder Years was the . . . Not a sitcom, not a drama. Just a half-hour of preaching.

Prone to statements about how "everyone" did something (brought a ham and jello to a funeral, felt some way about a girl) that never rang universal to anyone that wasn't a White, Straight, Male of a certain age. Vietnam was the supposed backdrop but the show was more interested in the lead child, Kevin (played by Fred Savage) hiding things in his school locker. His parents were a stay at home mom and a smoldering, angry dad. His older brother Wayne (played by Jason Hervey) was Tony Dow's Wally with a nasty side. A sister was tossed in, and rarely utilized, Karen (played by Olivia D'Abo). If the message wasn't already clear that women were to be sidelined there was Winnie Cooper.

In a performance so rotten it made one yearn for the deeper meanings in Brooke Shields' 80s film work, Danica McKellar played the ultimate trophy -- shiny, glossy, and if she got 'emotional' that was okay, just meant she was about to cry on Kev's shoulder. In later years, it appeared she might have actual wants besides being a trophy so good thing she'd have an affair with a life guard in the final season -- proof positive of how those women couldn't be trusted.

It was Leave It To Beaver with bad voice overs and June didn't even get to look polished in pearls. Quite the contrary, the mother always looked to be in fear of the father only we weren't supposed to notice.

What would you do . . . If the theme was a Beatles song sung by Joe Cocker? You might note that the song came after, months after, the period it was used in. Or maybe you'd just note that, and the other songs, and realize how little they reflected the time period or represented. A song performed by Carole King would appear on one episode, a Joni Mitchell one ("River") on another. But to listen, you'd have no real grasp of how much race and gender barriers were overcome in the period the show supposedly was covering.

Though the opening voice over name-checked The Mod Squad, you just knew if an African-American sat next to Kev, he'd squirm more than when he was playing RFK Jr. in the school play. In fact, inclusion on the show apparently began and ended with Kev's best friend, Paul the town's token Jew.

It was 1969, ABC was airing The Brady Bunch, a family sitcom set in the time period it was airing. Preceding The Wonder Years by two decades, it was much more forward thinking than what ABC would serve up in the 80s. You had Alice, the working woman. You had Marcia, Jan and Cindy, three sisters who were active and had wants. All together, they longed for a sewing machine while the boys wanted a canoe. The compromise was a TV -- the compromise society's been paying for ever since. Individually, Marcia wanted to be beautiful and loved by all, Jan wanted to be a writer but, most of all, she wanted to Marcia and Cindy wanted that damn Kitty Karry-All doll and to be famous. Though nothing ground breaking, it's the difference between characters and trophies. Winnie was just a bland piece of ass to little boys who didn't even know the phrase "piece of ass."

Fred Savage (slowly) became an actor during the course of the series. Hervey devolved and, short of Three's Company: The Movie needing a new Mr. Furley, has a 'talent' that can't be marketed. Olivia D'Abo did strong work with an earlier version of Christina Ricci's Black Snake Moan character but, like Ricci, her talents couldn't save the snark factor. As usually happens on these retro shows, a woman's reward for actual talent is to be written off the show. Which is why D'Abo vanishes and McKellar can be found season after season.

It was 2007 and NBC was attempting to figure out whether they should cancel Medium or Crossing Jordan or both, because two women starring in hour long dramas seemed, to the network, to be two too many. Wasn't it enough that they had women as featured players in various Dickie Wolf shows? It was 2007 and for the former Pax network, three women playing private detectives was so controversial, they had to pull it and, in its place, air a White boy-centric half hour show in two installments. They'd also added a half-hour daily helping of Alice because the boss was a man and it was so much safer, they thought, than One Day At A Time. Still the complaints came in the first week when the episode aired where Alice dates a gay man ("Jolly?") and has to decide whether or not her son Tommy should be allowed around him? (She decides yes.)

It was 2007 and boys, White boys, of all ages still existed in lead roles on TV in larger proportion than they did in the country. It was 2007 and, at that late date, networks and pseudo-netlettes (like the former Pax) still felt White boy played 'universal'. It was 2007 and CBS suits were grumbling about being 'stuck' with the sitcom hit The New Old Christine. It was 2007 and Thirty Rock was renewed not because of the amazing work of Tina Fey but because NBC suits really believed it was Alec Baldwin's show.

As you read this all these years, all these decades, later, probably as the country is engaged in another illegal war, and see nothing but the embrace of whiney White boys who lament their very non-universal past, grasp that what passes for TV entertainment remains the largest and most effective gate keeper society has.

Talking with Ruth

Ruth's Report is a feature that runs at The Common Ills. It's gone by several names and it's undergone several changes as well. Brady wrote a funny e-mail that we all enjoyed (including Ruth) and we thought it and other topics needed addressing.

Ruth, just to set it up for anyone late to the party, talk about the various titles of your report.

Ruth: Well, it started out with me reading The Common Ills and wanting to contribute in some way. C.I. had tackled NPR using the husband of one of Dick Cheney's staffers to critique the John Kerry 2004 campaign without ever telling listeners that the "critic" was married to a woman who worked for Cheney. I'm not a big TV watcher but I do listen to the radio. Later on, a comment was made that NPR gets away with a great deal, which I agreed with, and I thought I could make that my niche, the way Isaiah has the comics and Kat the music. So I started with Ruth's Morning Edition Report where I covered the show and it noted sexism, inaccuracies and more. I learned about Pacifica via The Common Ills. I had no idea there was an alternative to NPR. And it became Ruth's Public Radio Report. Now it is just Ruth's Report and that is partly due to the fact that I may cover the print edition of Extra! or something else.

Community member Brady e-mailed you and C.I. about the report and made a very comparison. He compared you to Geena Davis in The Long Kiss Goodnight.

Ruth: He even quoted the Samuel L. Jackson line about how Ms. Davis' character had changed as the movie went along. I thought that was very funny. He was funny and he was correct. I have changed a great deal while I've been doing the report. I personally feel stronger. Early on, in my reports, NPR and PBS were under attack. They are always under attack and a number of us always rush in to defend them. I was that way before I started the report and once I started the report. Rebecca disagreed with the comments I was making in the report at that time. We disagreed with each other on that. But there were no hard feelings. Rebecca's attitude was, "What are we saving? What are we wasting all of our time and energy on?" That's correct, right, Rebecca?

Rebecca: Good summary.

Ruth: And my own attitude was, "What would the world be without NPR and PBS?" Was it perfect? No. Was it great? No. Was it even good? No. But imagine how much worse the landscape would be without it. That is where I came from then.

And now?

Ruth: Rebecca and I are in total agreement. If PBS and NPR can't save themselves, let them die. We're supposed to take part in this time consuming, never ending battle to save something that does very little, that distorts a great deal, that is no different than cable TV? The problem go beyond it not being left. It is titled right. There are real battles to fight. Saving NPR and PBS is time consuming and something right-wingers and centrists, the audiences served, can work on but it is not something I care to work on any longer.

When you and C.I. spoke on the phone Saturday afternoon, you brought up another movie?

Ruth: Yes, I felt like another Geena Davis movie captured where I was. In Thelma & Louise, Ms. Davis is trapped in a bad situation and Susan Sarandon tells her, "You get what you settle for." That is where I was at when the report started. My husband had passed away. I went through a very long and very serious depression. We got together in the early sixties while we were both in college, we had a large family. I lost someone very important to me and a big part of who I was. My children were worried, my grandchildren were worried. Treva, my best friend from college, was worried. There were weeks I did not leave the house and, when I would venture out, all it would take was something like a checker at the grocery store saying something such as, "We haven't seen you or your husband in awhile. How are you doing?" That is all it would take to send me back to the house determined not to leave it. All of my grandchildren were helpful. But Tracey is persistent and not afraid to get tough. She would tell me, "Grandma, you have to do this" or "Grandma, you have to do that." It might be attending one of their school events or something else. One of the things was, "Grandma, you have to read The Common Ills." I really did not know much about the computer. My husband would play around on it and I knew a few things because he showed me. I had a few sites bookmarked but I did not even know how to log on to the web. If I was on, it would usually be because he was on would say, "Ruth, you need to come over here." So I would sit there and bumble around. Tracey and her father gave me a crash course, Tracey made The Common Ills my home page. I was taking baby steps and then my grandson Jayson announced, during a Sunday dinner, that he was gay. That was the wake up call.

In what way?

Ruth: Jayson needed support. There was not time to wallow or feel sorry for myself. Life was going on. My grandson did a very brave thing and there were some people who were going to openly hate him because of who he was. He did not need or deserve a part time grandmother. He needed someone who was going to be there for him. This actually works with the quote from Thelma & Louise: "You get what you settle for." He should not have to settle for anything. I also think that is the approach I take in the reports today. I am an old woman. I have seen too many things play out. My grandchildren should not have to tamper down dreams and settle for something. They should dream big and go for it. I am thinking of the apologists for the lack of real Congressional action on Iraq, the ones who sneered that people needed to be "realistic." I am realistic. My grandchildren, every one's grandchildren, should not be content with a world that they "settle" for. They should demand fairness, equality and real, not symbolic, action. What is the line in the Carly Simon song?

"Let all the dreamers wake the nation," from "Let the River Run."

Ruth: Thank you. The young people should be dreaming big. The country is in a huge mess and "settling" for symbolism is not going to fix anything. Dream big and work towards that. Ignore the party operatives who tell you to shut up and be happy with nothing. Ignore the party apologists who want to discuss "reality." Reality is an illegal war is going on. Reality is that the people have turned against it. Reality is that Democrats gave Bully Boy the power for the illegal war. Reality is that Congress needs to be responsive to the people. Reality is that the country belongs to the people and not elected officials who are in office to serve the people, not the other way around.

A Party Hack's cry baby defense of Congress really bothered you.

Ruth: Yes, he did. I started picturing what might come down the line for gays and lesbians or immigrants. Something that accomplished nothing but we were told to applaud because it was the best that could be done. I say "no" to that and do not find that person "realistic." I find him to be an apologist for Congress and someone who, while self-presenting as a populist, really does not respect the power of the people. To use one past example that effects my grandchildren, Bill Clinton was president and put into place Don't Ask, Don't Tell. He was president and that was not what he promised the people. He did not have to water it down. He did that because it was easy. The reality was that he was the president, he was commander-in-chief of the military and they had to follow his orders. He could have done more but went with what was easy and then, in an interview given before he left office, wanted to talk about how the policy was not working out. It was never going to work out. The policy before was that gays and lesbians were not fit to serve. What he implemented endorsed that. They could serve, if they were silent. If they were open and honest, they were not fit. That is what Don't Ask, Don't Tell really endorses. Treva laughs that, considering his own personal history with regards to sex, Don't Ask, Don't Tell might be a good policy. But what is right for him only further stigmatized gays and lesbians. The silence was nothing more than "passing" -- if you could stay silent and, in effect, pass for straight, you could serve. As a Jewish woman, I find the idea of "passing" offensive in and of itself. But it was damaging and something that, in real time, was hailed as "realistic." It was not realistic. Reality was he could have implemented anything he wanted to and he chose to take the easiest path. Can you imagine how that will play out on immigration? If we, as we will be urged to, accept the "realistic" answer, can you imagine how immigrants will get sold out by Congress? So I am not writing a report that settles.

How does that play out in the reports?

Ruth: I am comfortable calling out anyone. If I had not been doing the listeners' report, I would have addressed that a stipulation is not a plea bargain. I would have also addressed that Sarah Olson did not refuse to testify. She even, in an interview after the stipulation which freed her from testifying in the court-martial of Lt. Ehren Watada, stated she would not say what she would have done. The hype that surrounded her as someone who refused to testify was inaccurate. Her statements were often vague and inconsistent so it is easy to understand how some people could be confused. But she took no stand. I also do not see the blogger as a hero after he posts the footage on his website. The 'logic' that he did not turn it over and merely posted it, that is cowardice. He gave them what they wanted and is not a journalistic hero. His excuses that he was prepared much earlier to do that but the prosecution would not agree to it are hollow. Are you protecting a source or not? That is how journalistic heroism is measured in that regard. I do not blame him for wanting to get out of jail but I will not hail him as hero. Or Ms. Olson who was, if she refused to testify, something she never said she would do, facing a few months in jail, if she did not testify, whining, in an interview, that Ehren was "manipulative" and that unnamed friends of hers, always good to hide behind the unnamed when you want to trash, felt he was not defending her. Ehren Watada was facing years in prison. Ehren's job was not to defend Sarah Olson. His job was to defend himself. Now Ms. Olson could not defend herself because she could not take a stand. She wanted the whole world to defend her while she refused to take a stand. Little princess wanting and waiting to be rescued. If she had been my grandchild, that illusion would have been shelved before she entered grade school. So I did and do find her pretty, is the word kids use, "scummy"? I found her scummy. That, in an interview when she is in the clear, she wants to offer that Ehren did not do enough for her, while hiding it behind unnamed, is just an indication of how truly weak the woman is. A reporter expecting someone on trial to trash their own defense to save a reporter? I do not think that would even play as a movie. Ms. Olson is pathetic. I always think back to that interview when one of her audio reports just happens to feature someone trashing Lt. Watada. Just by chance? Not likely. She made her opinion very clear for anyone paying attention. Maybe she thought Ehren was supposed to be 'realistic' and grasp that she is the center of the universe and any defense he offered had to put her first and foremost because what are six or so years in prison as long as Ms. Olson is spared taking a stand that might have resulted in three to six months in jail? I am not surprised by all the men who rushed to her defense and do not even blame them. When a woman plays helpless victim, for some men, it can be a heady rush to step up to the plate and defend the "little lady."

So today?

Ruth: I love Andrea Lewis but I will call out a mistake by her as easily as I will by anyone else. Leigh Ann Caldwell has done some wonderful reporting but she blew it on the Congressional measures. She was not the only one. I think it matters more coming from her because she is the D.C. reporter/expert. Someone e-mailed to say that Leigh Ann Caldwell was not a Pacifica reporter, that she was a Free Speech Radio News reporter. No, that is her title, but that is not reality. If you listen to any Pacifica station, you will come across her brought on to the program as an in house D.C. expert. Whether it is Wake Up Call or The Morning Show or something else. Her reach goes far beyond the reports she files for Free Speech Radio News. Usually, that is a good thing. In this instance, it was not. I had two e-mails, last month, about poor Sasha Lilley. I do not hate Sasha Lilley. Is she doing her job? No. As the co-host of a program that has ignored Iraq, and they have, she is not doing her job. As someone high up at KPFA, she is not doing her job. When, in the listeners' report, replying to a caller, she states that KPFA's news staff pushed the webpage of activism events, she is not doing her job. The reality is that KPFA news staff pushed, repeatedly. Ms. Lilley needs to visit the archives and she will grasp why listeners are upset. It will not be a happy visit for her because it will demonstrate that she did not know what she was talking about when, in the listeners' report, she maintained the KPFA activism page was pushed by news staff. Having put out a falsehood, unintentionally, in my opinion, she needs to correct that on the next listeners' report and she needs to have some answer as to why the news staff did not push the webpage KPFA created, the one they were instructed to push? I am sure Ms. Lilley is a wonderful person who can light up a room and delight everyone that knows her. That is not the subject or focus of my report. Is Ms. Lilly doing her job? As a co-host of a show that ignores Iraq, no. As the interim program director telling listeners that a page of events was pushed when it was not, no. That may not be pretty or pleasing, but that is reality. I am too old and the country is in too much trouble to hand out lolly pops and empty praise.

This is Kat, which Ruth will know but so readers will know who asked this question, what did you think of the scorn heaped on Larry Bensky by some callers in the last two listeners' report?

Ruth: Like you, I am a fan of Larry Benksy's work. So I did not think it was warranted. For those who missed it, there was at least one caller in March's listeners' report and at least two in April's expressing their glee that Mr. Bensky was retiring. In terms of the callers, I wish they had a real issue to address. If Mr. Bensky has been the thorn in your side and he is retiring, I think your problem has been solved. In terms of taking the calls, I was actually glad they took them. So much of the report plays out so safe. If listeners have a problem, they should be able to express it. I do not think KPFA should censor it. I do wish the callers had a self-censor button or even a moment of, "Is this the most pressing issue to me?" Again, he is leaving the station so I really do not understand the need to try to make him an issue. I did wonder, having heard of a caller who did not get on the air who was going to ask the obvious: Where is KPFA's program that focuses on Iraq?, I did wonder if it was a bit easier to decide to take calls about Mr. Bensky or another personality as opposed to addressing a serious fault of the station's?

Ruth, the thing you have noted twice in your reports on the listeners' reports is the airing of them. That is obviously very important to you and could you address that?

Ruth: The report KPFA does is a report to the listeners. KPFA airs 24 hours a week, 7 days a week. While I know it plays pretty much 24-7 at C.I.'s house, I am aware, and so is C.I., that not every KPFA listener can or chooses to listen at all hours. I do object to the fact that the listeners report airs in the middle of the work week, in the middle of work day. I imagine there are many listeners who are at work and unable to listen during work hours or, if they are able to listen, unable to call in if they wanted to. It is not as though you call in, the phone rings, and you are told, "You are on the air!" There is lengthy waiting process. What is the boss going to be thinking as you wait 15 or more minutes to make a comment, on the phone, about KPFA? I do not believe it serves the listeners. I believe it serves the listeners who can listen and call in during the day and I would assume that is small sub-section of the total KPFA audience. I think the report should travel around the listening schedule. I think it should grab a weekend day every now and then, a late night, an evening air during the week at other times. How are you getting input from your listeners if you are seeking out the mid-day listener, report after report? They are not getting the input from a variety of listeners because they do not make the report available to all airwaves listeners. It is probably nice to do a noon report. No one has to get up early, no one has to stay late. No one has to give up weekend time. But the reality is KPFA airs seven days a week, 24 hours a day. They need to serve all the listeners and not just those that listen at noon on a weekday. I believe most business that operate like that vary the meetings, I think KPFA should vary the scheduling of their reports. Either that or change the name of the listeners' report to "The Mid-Week, Mid-Day Listeners' Report."

C.I. here, I know what your response to this will be but I want to toss it out there because it is what the official response would be to that criticism --

Ruth: That "we have a contact form online and we have a listener phone line"?


Ruth: My response is "So?" Despite Ms. Lilley recommending both in March and stating that they would address issues arising from those, and they call it "e-mail" and not contact form but it is not e-mail. It is as non-personal as complaining to Proctor & Gamble; however, P&G does respond to your complaints. But the listener line and the contact form are meaningless if the issues listeners express there are never addressed in the listeners' report. It is not difficult to say, "___ called in and wanted to share . . ." or "___ called the listener line to express . . ." But they did not do that this month even after recommending it last month.

Kat again, I agreed that far too much time was spent on the "joke" in the listener's report this month and thought it made the entire report look like amateur hour.

Ruth: That was my thought as well. A "cute" moment played on KPFA. Were listeners really thinking KPFA had been taken over by right-wing Christians? If they were, they had to only listen a bit longer or come back at any point after and they knew that was not the case. If someone said, "Oh no! I am never listening to KPFA again! It's been taken over!" I seriously doubt that they were listening to listeners' report. It ate up time. They giggled and it was "cute" but it was not professional. By the time I was hearing, "It's important to laugh," I felt like I was sitting in a second grade classroom and not listening to supposed adults addressing issues with a public radio station. Yes, it is important to laugh. It is also important to brush after every meal, to eat your vegetables, to wash your hands . . . Hopefully, the next listeners' report will not waste everyone's time imparting lessons we all learned in childhood.

Any final thoughts?

Ruth: When I noted that if C.I. is noting problems with KPFA, it means the community is in an uproar over something, a number of e-mails came in on that wondering if that was hard to get into the report? The report is my space. The only time I hear any feedback on it that is negative, from C.I., is along the lines of, "Ruth, you didn't need to say that." "That" is always something nice about C.I. That was not a criticism of C.I. but I do not think C.I. would care if it was. The thing that always makes C.I. uncomfortable is when I am praising something C.I. did.
To return to Brady's e-mail, which I laughed with and enjoyed, the same could be said of C.I. Look at the early days of the site and look at it now. It is actually reflective of the community as a whole. We are, collectively, tired of people refusing to step up. We are tired of people being "cute" when they should be addressing reality. We are very tired of some in independent media offering the equivalent of escapism and not addressing reality.

Thank you, Ruth. For the interviews and the reports.

Ruth: My pleasure.

Your Guide to the Horse Race


Billy's blue
With his head hangin' to
His shoes
Right the wrong
Or play a song
To ease Billy's blues
Billy's down
He was born he was bound
To lose
Right the wrong
Or play a song
To ease Billy's blues
-- "Billy's Blues" written by Laura Nyro off her CD The First Songs

Well wouldn't you be blue too?

What the hell do you have to do?

You were the president. You were asked to avoid the spotlight in 2000, you did. In 2004, you were asked to campaign and, excuse me, did you not end in the hospital?

So with all you've given, with all you've done, if you're supporting a candidate for president, shouldn't they listen to you? Didn't everyone call you the big dog? Aren't you the only Democrat elected to more than one presidential term since FDR?

The way the candidate you're supporting is being treated is enough to make a man drown his sorrows in Big Macs!

Here's the realities.

Hillary Clinton is neither wounded as a candidate or out of the race.

She's not even 'trailing.'

Barack Obama is unproven and untested. Some see him as the 'dream' candidate when the reality is that he's the press hyped fancy who, odds are, will be brought down to earth shortly while the uninitiated scratch their heads.

The reality is, and you'd think the mini-gas bags would grasp that (real gas bags do, but they know the play the game), the press created candidates are morning glorys, they're stars who burn out fast. John McCain in 2000, Howard Dean in 2004, Paul Tsongas in 1992 (check the press in real time, ye who scoff).

What goes on? You've got a lazy press that's rewarded for being lazy. It's much easier to write about who is "up" and who is "down" than to explore the realities of what the candidates are standing for. It also pleases the bosses when you announce the horse race because, as demonstrated throughout the health care debate in the early 90s, they really aren't for informing the people. So you run with the horse race and, to make good copy, you can't write, "John Kerry in the lead" over and over. You've got months and months to cover -- or at least distract -- and you need to turn it into a real race.

The worst thing any presidential candidate in the primary can be is the press supported front runner. They crash and burn. They're built up by the press which quickly pulls the rug out from under them. (See the so-called "scream" of Howard Dean.)

The "flavor" these days is Obama. As with Bill Bradley (another "flavor") in 2000, the press will wonder why-oh-why Obama couldn't go the distance?

If Obama's campaign's killed, what will kill it? Count on Cokie Roberts to tell you he didn't have a long enough voting record. That's the same Cokester who declared, in the last cycle, that senators didn't make good presidential candidates because they had voting records. But you don't last in the gas bag circles as long as Cokie without grasping that facts are unnecessary.

More than likely, what will kill Obama's campaign will be articles exploring earlier campaigns which aren't as soft and fuzzy as the press wants you to believe currently. The 2004 campaign resulted in the kind of actions that are usually greeted with universal condemnation. (As a general rule, attacks that involve family are considered 'off sides.') As that gets teamed up with other campaigns that most people know nothing about (A.E.B. the fact that some point to the fact that he defeated a 'huge slate' to win the 2004 race -- he didn't defeat anyone of importance and you truly have to be stupid to not grasp that), as his professional history begins to backdate beyond his national coming out party (the DNC convention 2004), little bits and pieces of unsavory campaigns began to come together and form a picture of a candidate whose campaigns play dirty.

Some of the shine gets taken off and what you're left with is a motivational speaker who wears a suit well but hasn't even held national office for a full term.

While words like "rock star" get deployed by the politically naive, watch for John Edwards or Hillary Clinton to be the long distance runner. The morning glory always fades once the primaries start.

What of Dennis Kucinich (whom many people working on this have endorsed)? Kucinich's campaign has to be built around "outsider" to get any kind of traction. He has to be out there doing radio, any radio, that will invite him on. It doesn't matter if the hosts make jokes. In fact, that probably helps. By staying firm and straight forward, he can tap into the outsider energy. It's very real and why, time and again, the ultimate insiders run campaigns claiming they are "outsiders." Some current press likes to slam Kunicinch (vegetarian, make fun of policies). If he rides that, if he embraces it, if he plays the oddball, but the straight forward oddball, he can tap into the same thing Perot did in 1992 (which didn't result in the presidency though, had Perot not dropped out of the race and then returned, who knows what would have happened). It's the sort of thing Bully Boy worked in 2000. "He makes no sense!" came the cry of many. "No, but he's genuine!" shouted the reply.

The popular narrative on Jimmy Carter is "peanut farmer becomes president." The realitiy is he was no outsider but he, like so many others, ran as such. The "little guy" who stands up can be embraced by the people -- no matter how stupid they come off (Bully Boy), no matter how emeshed they are as an insider (Perot wasn't turning down government contracts, he was actively courting them). Unlike Christopher Dodd, Kucinich isn't stiff and, of all the candidates declared, he could most realistically court the outsider vote. (The only real drama involving Dodd is will he drop out before Joe Biden.)

He also has a little noted sexual quality that plays well. (Watch the Democracy Now! interview and you'll see it flare up from time to time. Rebecca's been polling on that -- for her own interest, she's not part of the campaign.) A party that's failed to put forward principles for some time needs charisma in a candidate but, memories of the nineties still being fresh, a dollop not a 'rock star.' Jimmy Carter was considered an 'oddball' by some and he won the race, by posing as an outsider when he was no such thing.

Obama's the high flying lamb, the press favorite who gets brought down to earth and slaughtered by the same group that built him up. That's the nature of the beast. Unless John Edwards self-elects to drop out (we don't advocate it and Elaine summed up the community's position on Elizabeth Edwards in this post), expect to see him and Hillary Clinton both still standing strong when the primary season begins and Obama begins to falter.

Your old school gas bags know the way system works. They grasp fully that they need to create/designate a front runner and, for their to be continued drama and attention (to them), they need to tear him (or her) down. Remember when Gary Hart was a sure thing? Oh, you shout back, Donna Rice and Monkey Business brought him down! No, twas the modern day press beast that destroyed his candidacy.

The online, latter day Dylan has wasted years with his "The press hated Al Gore!" screeds. He's closer to the truth when he notes the importance of the press having their "fun" (as Margaret Carlson explained it). Online, latter day continually worries and frets over how editors can put up with that crap? They do so because the owners embrace it. Let the minions have their fun, let them take to the cable chat & chews and make little names for themselves, as long as the campaign's reduced to a horse race and real issues aren't addressed, the owners are happy.

For the press, it truly is about "fun" and too many of the public try to read non-existent tea leaves in an attempt to determine why the 'big names' of the press (they are the servants and only big names to those who embrace the gas bag system -- even if they decry it) offer so many 'howlers.' They do so because that is why they exist. They do so because that's what the press system embraces.

It's why Bill Clinton really doesn't have the blues right now.


Jim: With much groaning, and C.I. saying, "I have a bad feeling about this," we launch another roundtable. We do so reluctantly because we know it will last way too long and include many things that people will pull and will get edited out. Consider this a rough transcript and we're largely dealing with subjects raised in e-mails. Participating are The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Jess, Ty, Ava and me, Jim, Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude, Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man, C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review, Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills), Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix, Mike of Mikey Likes It!, Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz, and Wally of The Daily Jot.

Dona: The order listed is an issue in many e-mails. That's the most minor issue we have for this roundtable so to get it out at the start, this is our site and we list ourselves first. After that, the list is in order of when a site was created with one exception: C.I. who asked to be "buried in the middle." Ty explains that in e-mails and Brenda saw Beth addressing that in the gina & krista round-robin as well. She hadn't written in about it, because there are honestly more serious things to focus on, but she just wanted to clarify that Mike's started before Cedric's. Unlike some making that claim, she's aware Cedric's Big Mix on Blogger/Blogspot started after Mike's site; however, she was speaking of Cedric's Blogdrive site. That was our error.

Cedric: I started up on Blogdrive with no help from anyone because Blogdrive is an easy site host. It's easier to copy and paste there. I wasn't able to provide a blog roll and that and other things led me to switch over to Blogger/Blogspot. I had intended to stop the Blogdrive site. But e-mails came in asking me why I wasn't blogging? Now, I try to crosspost all of my joint posts with Wally as well as the day's Iraq snapshot there. It's a backup site now. We, Wally and I, have used it as such when Blogger/Blogspot was down and we were unable to post at our main sites. My first post online was July 17, 2005 and Mike's first post was June 20, 2005.

Mike: Right and I'd never given a thought to the billing, nor had Cedric. It's not a big deal to me. Since Elaine and I are a couple, I like being listed next to her. Put in a smiley face there. [":D"] So that's how the listing came about. Rebecca started before The Third Estate Sunday Review and if we listed in order on our blogrolls, she would be billed ahead of them but there's confusion there too as a result of The Third Estate Sunday Review being the top link at The Common Ills.

Rebecca: Where I was originally listed on The Common Ills was under Naomi Klein's link. When The Third Estate Sunday Review started up a short while after my site did, C.I. phoned a friend to add a link to the then brand new Third Estate. The friend wasn't sure how to do it and ended up making it the top link because it was easiest. After that resulted in e-mails asking about that, C.I. moved us all the top and I don't think anyone has them in a 'correct' order. At my site, when Cedric moved to Blogger/Blogspot, I put his new site higher up to make sure my readers knew the site had changed addresses. And Elaine's listed lower because I get back from vacation and find out about her own site when I'm reading Mike's post about that.

Elaine: I knew that upset you. I told C.I. that upset you.

Rebecca: I got over it. But yeah, it did irritate me. A best friend from college, who I have urged to start a site, and who has filled in for me. I get back and I'm saying, "You really should start your own site" and you're responding, "Let's talk about something else." So I pouted for a few days before I got over it. Was it that obvious?

Elaine: Yes. And, to explain, C.I. knew because I needed someone to talk me through setting up a template. Mike had already asked for an interview after I finished filling in for you. I'd promised him that. He'd started the e-mail campaign to persuade me to start a site. I'm not interesting enough for an interview so the only real thing of value I had to offer was that I was starting a site. If I'd told you before that interview, you know this, you would have told.

Rebecca: Yeah, I would have. I stink at secrets. Like I said, I got over it but if you read the first two --

Elaine: Or three.

Rebecca: Or three posts after I found out, it's probably obvious that I'm stewing.

Jim: I'll just note that this is news to the rest of us. The things you learn in a roundtable.

Jess: One more 'minor' thing. We're currently listening to Joan Baez' Joan because two readers believe they can detect musical influences in features and always want to know what we listened to during the writing of each edition.

Dona: And music's the topic of Gillian's e-mail. She notes Kat's review of Holly Near's new CD and that our reposting it in full here sent a message that she should get it. She did and her question is: "Why aren't there more great CDs like this coming out?"

Kat: Well there aren't a lot of artists capable of doing that. Even if they were inclined, they aren't capable. Last summer, we noted the track on Dashboard Confessional's new CD that was vaguely about the war. I thought that song was weak, I thought the entire CD was weak. I think there is talent to write a stronger song but I don't think the courage existed to write one. The whole album was a huge disappointment. You're an emo, confessional songwriter. Why you'd want to sound like Sugar Ray is beyond me. I give the track credit for trying, which is a great deal more than many others did, but, though others participating in the roundtable enjoyed it, I felt the entire CD was a huge drop off in the quality of previous CDs.

Elaine: In terms of the songwriting on that CD, on all songs, it was as though everything was being pruned and cut back. It was too orderly for me, Kat and I were in agreement, and too MOR. But it needs to be noted that a lot of younger acts don't give a damn. When a starlet's bragging about wanting to be the new Marilyn Monroe, a "sex object," she says, then there's a huge drop in the understanding and it's reflected in society at large. So I think it also reflects that and that few of the acts on big labels will try to venture out, few of the new acts. Obviously, Bright Eyes has been kicking around for years.

Jess: And there you have someone, Conor Oberst, who has built his career around communicating with an audience. I don't think many big acts can make that claim that have emerged on large labels in the last decade. Macy Gray and Eryka Badu are exceptions. Everyone else has been doing moon-june, first love songs or teasing out sex. It's about the exposure, not the art.

Kat: I agree with what Elaine and Jess have said and the only thing I'd add is that some strong work has come out from 'big names.' Obviously Neil Young, Holly Near, Ben Harper, Joan Baez, Michael Franti & Spearhead and, yes, Pink. She's the exception to the artists who emerged in the last decade because she really did put it out there, so let's not forget her. But the Rolling Stones put out an incredible album and I think the focus on "Sweet Neocon" prevented attention to other songs including the one about Abu Ghraib. And there I fault the left media. As C.I. pointed out last week, there is no reason that Iraq can't be covered or noted in every issue of The Nation and where was the review of the Stones? I didn't praise Steel Wheels as the second coming but I really do believe that all of A Bigger Bang stands as strong work. Would Nation readers have been interested? I think they would have been. CounterPunch, to give credit, did note the release. But when you've got that or Neil Young's CD, which The New York Times never reviewed, and The Nation isn't even offering critiques in their coverage -- considering their poor music coverage that may actually be a kind thing -- then people who depend on print may or may not be aware of it. Richard Goldstein wrote a wonderful essay on Dylan but there's something really sad that it, Dylan hosting a satellite radio show, results in the most substantial 'music' coverage the magazine offered in all of 2006.

Elaine: There's no attempt to create excitement. They're there to bemoan that no one's doing whatever, but when an artist steps up, where's the attempt to create excitement. I love Holly Near's Show Up and urge anyone reading this to get the CD. Without the coverage, most people won't even know about the album.

Rebecca: But if we got that, and I just stepped over Mike, sorry, if we got that, we might miss out on Joan Crawford pens a gossip column. Readers may not be aware of it but Crawford actually did do that and did so to keep her name in the lights. "Tonight I was . . ." I enjoy laughing at The Nation's gossip column. Most recently, it praised the 'journalism' of Ted Koppel which indicates that our current day Joan Crawford has never visited the FAIR website.

Mike: I was going to The Nation as well but noting the joke that remains StudentNation. It's pedestrian, bordering on right of center and just a joke on every campus. Wally e-mailed me another thing on them last week.

Wally: Yeah, there "big question" is a negative. Are students today more narcissistic? Than whom? Than the lazy adults at The Nation who think their crap is worth reading? It was the sort of attention getting question that everyone ignored. A strong argument can be made that the rag has promoted the notion of apathy in young people today than anything else on the left or 'left.' The real apathy is to be found in supposed grown ups who can't tackle the war crimes against Abeer. When Katrina vanden Heuvel comes down from her cloud, or falls off, and addresses the real world, I'll worry about apathy in my generation. While she's getting giddy over three men, I'll just laugh at her weak ass mind and realize that it's important for some to have money to buy themselves a seat at the table.

Rebecca: I'll note two things. (A) I agree with every word Wally said but (B) if I'd said that, C.I. would have made a comment "in fairness."

C.I.: Well there's no reason to. The magazine has been very insulting to the youth. Wally is a part of the youth today. He has every right to call out that crap as someone the magazine has discriminated against. When Cedric noted the mileage Katrina vanden Heuvel attempted to gain from drawing a line between herself and Harry Belafonte, I supported Cedric's statements as well. The magazine is supposed to exist to put out ideas that need traction, ideas that are not available within the mainstream. Instead it's trying to steer everyone to the mainstream. Moments of bravery result in the writers being stabbed in the back. I hear it from friends at the magazine. I'd honestly not renew my subscription this year were it not for the fact that we're keeping the running tally of Nation Stats. I really don't need a print version of a Sunday chat & chew.

Jim: The silence that greeted that remark was followed by a loud exhale. Just noting that. We'll move on to a different topic before C.I.'s "in fairness" reflex kicks in. Betty, a question for you is about the horse race. Donald wants to know what you think of Barack Obama raising almost as much as Hillary Clinton in their fundraising for the first circle?

Betty: I think it's rather sad if true. The figures are $26 million for Hillary and $25 million for Barack. The late announcement by Barack's campaign could indicate that they had to work the figures. If that's not the case, reality is even sadder. It took them days to count the totals. If Hillary can get her numbers out in a timely manner and Barack can't, what does that say about his campaign?

Ty: Staying with that topic, there's a question for C.I. --

C.I.: I don't do horse racing, or try not to.

Ty: It's not about campaign donations. Mike, obviously not our Mike participating, wondered what you thought about Bob Somerby's take Friday on the fundraising because Mike said he enjoyed it but enjoyed it best the Saturday before when you made the points and made them more strongly?

C.I.: I really don't want to get into that. I will note the derision of hippies is ironic for a man who was blasting classic Joan Baez on a road trip in 2005. He has no concept of what a hippie is and would do a world of good by sticking to his press analyses.

Ty: Mike also wondered what you thought of his constant "Feminist will not challenge Chris Matthews!" point?

C.I.: I'll let Ava answer that laughable assertion.

Ava: What I think is a little pig who goes oink-oink wants to point to a big pig who goes OINK-OINK. I have no idea if Piggie Somerby thinks that feminists find Chris Matthews "dreamy" or what but he's not really a focal point in my life. Like C.I., I only watch TV for our reviews. We do have a life. Possibly, if Somerby could turn off the TV, he could address the issue of Hillary's fundraising in real time and, like reader Mike, I felt the points were made more strongly six days before by C.I. Possibly, you can do that when Chris Matthews hasn't rotted your brain? Most feminists I know don't choose to watch TV shows that replace laughtracks with screech-fests. His concern for women and his constant harping on feminists not presenting dissertations on Chris Matthews come out of the same mouth that defended Pig Larry so I really don't concern myself with his opinions on feminism. For the record, we addressed Washington Week and did so because more women would be apt to see that than Chris Matthews. I can't answer why others don't probe the shallows of Matthews' mind but C.I. and I cover broadcast TV. We do that every week and have never gone "out to pasture" or "the back forty" or dropped everything to discuss "March Madness." When Bra Burner Bobby can say the same, he can get back to me.

Jim: Now Somerby's crap about hippies actually figures into the assault on the sixties. I need to note that in this section, C.I. may weigh in more than anyone and that's largely due to the fact that a book is the basis for two questions and C.I.'s the only one who's read it. I believe every one's spoken at least once thus far so --

C.I.: Betty needs to note her blog roll or I will.

Betty: I didn't want to leap in. I should have known you'd catch that. Actually, my blogroll does list all the sites in order with one exception. When Cedric started up at Blogger/Blogdrive, I moved that site to where his old site was and I dropped his old site to the bottom of the community sites. Mine is in order of who started up when.

[Ty note added April 11th, the sites are in order here -- now -- and Wally has also put his in order.]

Jim: So there is one site that actually lists in order. Ty explain what this section is on.

Ty: Well, we've got 15 e-mails that actually overlap. Two note Somerby's attack on hippies -- surely the most pressing issue in 2007, seven note The Nation's awful article on the SDS and three note James Weinstein's The Long Detour.

Dona: When In The Toilet was worth reading, Weinstein was the publisher.

Ty: So let's start with Somerby who attacks hippies, of the "70s" and today, and squeeze the following out:

So yes, when we open our politics up, we bring in many new players. In theory and practice, that's a wonderful thing, but they sometimes arrive with fiery views--and a relative lack of wisdom. This has always been the (potential) problem with "hippies"--in the 70s and again today--and it explains why those who address such players ought to counsel them wisely. This was the problem with hippies in Campaign 2000, when some believed what Frank Rich told them--that Bush and Gore were the same damn deal--and decided they'd cast their vote for Nader. That was a heartfelt hippie decision. But no, it hasn't worked out real well.
As human beings, we're all fairly stupid, some of us a tiny bit more so. That remains the (potential) problem with all these hippies--and it explains why Bush's astounding follies may not send a Dem to the White House next year. In current polling, our three Big Dems are running slightly behind, despite the folly of the past six years. Reason? In many ways, the scripted trashing of one Major Dem serves as a free-floating trashing of all. As hippies trash the Clintons and (sometimes) even Gore, they may not realize they're defining Obama as well. Fiery hippies may not grasp this fact. Don't worry--the RNC does.
Yes, the brand names of the two parties play a major role in our electoral politics. As we speak, those hero tales about Saint McCain are being seamlessly transferred to Saint Fred Thompson ("you just believe him")--and the endless trashing of those feckless, fake, phony, dishonest Dems inevitably stains the reputation of all. But so what? Given eternal human nature, our fiery hippies are always sure that they know how to make the system work. They knew how to do it in 1968--and they’re sure that they know how this year.

Ty (Con't): I believe Jess wants to respond to that, for obvious reasons.

Jess: I do. Bob Somerby, for an 'educator,' you're pretty stupid. Who the hell are you to insult hippies, fiery or otherwise. Unlike your dip-shit standup comedy, my mother and my father, both hippies, make a difference in the world. My mother is a public defender, my father works on prison reform. You'll find a lot of hippies are still out there making real contributions. They may not make it onto your cable channels, but that doesn't excuse your repeated ignorance. What Ralph Nader has to do with anything, who knows? People who voted for Nader wanted to vote for him. Nader didn't cost Al Gore the election and for some asswipe who thinks he offers a psuedo-Platonic discussion, you clearly do not. Quit lying about Nader. Gore lost the election in the recounts and you can blame Joe Lieberman for giving the vote away on Meet the Press or Gore for not fighting or the campaign for sending Jesse Jackson out of Florida. You can blame the Democratic Party for running from African-American voters, but quit your bullshit about Nader cost anyone an election. I am a child of hippies, I am a hippie and I am a Green. It is not my job to LIE to everyone about the great Bill Clinton. It is not my job to pretend that he didn't do a lousy job as president. You need to quit stroking Republicans to prove how 'fair' you are and grow up long enough to grasp that everyone in the world is not a Republican or a Democrat and that you embarrass yourself everytime you write the lie that the destruction of the modern day press can be traced to Bill Clinton coverage. You are an idiot, you are an asshole. You do not know what you speak of. Hopefully, you tell jokes better than you do analysis. In preparing for this interview, I called my parents and other friends of theirs who are hippies to ask: What do you think of Frank Rich? Only one person knew him and knew him as an entertainment writer. So quit you frucking broad generalizations or I will steer a piece where we go to town on your half-baked ass and your half-baked assertions. We won't deal with hippies, we'll expose how weak you are on your supposed solid ground. Or maybe we'll revisit your Joe Wilson coverage, something we all know you don't want anyone to notice or comment on. How's your buddy Matty Cooper, by the way? Does he appreciate the way you carried water for him and attacked Joe Wilson? That worked out real well, didn't it? Cooper lost his job. Funny how you, the big press critic, had not one damn word to say on that or the way Cooper double sourced to Rove.

C.I.: I knew Jess was upset but I had no idea he was that upset. For the record, I will delink from that site Sunday evening. It's not worth it. It's not worth Jess being hurt or his family insulted so Somerby can score some cheap points. A supposed Platonic discussion should use concrete terms and not rely on false stereotypes.

Jess: I am upset. I'm tired of his broadsides that have nothing to do with hippies but it's a way for him to be cheap and insulting. What he's talking about in that spewing has nothing to do with hippies. It's just a varied grouping of people that he doesn't like and he chooses to call them hippies. I'm surprised he didn't use a curse word since he's been dropping the f-word like crazy. Don't belive Plato did that either.

Rebecca: If I still link to him, I'll delink on Monday. I love both of Jess' parents and have tremendous respect for them. I don't want to be a party to anything that trashes them.

Ty: I'll assume Dallas doesn't need to find a link for Somerby? That was a joke.

Rebecca: I just want to jump in here for one second and I'll even stay silent the rest of the roundtable if I put us way over the time limit as a result. Both of Jess' parents give selflessly of their time. Jess is a wonderful man and that's because of the values he was raised with. They, and others who embraced the values of compassion, et al, do not need to put up with this crap. I really want that stated and on the record because they aren't people hiding behind elections to make the world a better place. They do that every day in their personal and professional lives. Jess is usually the most laid back of all of us so for him to say what he said indicates just how low Somerby's stooped. There is no excuse for that sort of stereotyping. Okay, I'm done.

Ty: I think we're all focused on Somerby's nonsense and I'm going to toss to C.I.

C.I.: Okay, the hippie slanders that Somerby's decided to make his stock and trade didn't start with Somerby -- he's not an original. In his use of "hippie,' he's really referring to student activists in the "sixties." The slanders are fairly common whether someone uses "sixties" or "hippies" or whatever. Most who do either are or identify with the White Male Straight supposed universal. The Nation's slow death has come about as it has repeatedly cozied up to publications and orgs that push that thinking even while noting their disagreement with that sort of thinking. James Weinstein was a very intelligent man and someone worth reading. There are parts of The Long Detour that are truly inspired. There are other parts that completely miss the boat. Unlike Somerby, he actually predates the period. Like many who've blazed an earlier trail, the book is filled with old scores and a need to argue that if he and his crowd had only been listened to, the world would be different than it is today. Well, it wasn't "his" world in the sense that he owned it or that he was even going to be a part of it for much longer. It's not "my" world either in the sense that I'm going to be around for the bulk of it. I'm not a leader and don't present myself as such. When I speak to students, I toss the responsibility and that power back to them because this will be their time. At one point, and was it Buddy, Ty?

Ty: Yes.

C.I.: At one point in his e-mail, Buddy quoted a section of Weinstein's book. Weinstein's attempting to argue that "sixties" leaders weren't interested in building movements or movements of lasting strength and uses a remark he heard Jerry Rubin make to the effect that if the war ended there would be no movement. Rubin made many humorous remarks but Weinstein's convinced that was a literal remark, one that Rubin would make in front of a crowd of people, which, alone, calls into question that it was literal. He uses that to decry the "sixties" leaders. He is also bothered that an elderly man attending a meeting during the "sixties," 1965, was attempting to prove his radicalism by announcing he was a card carrying Communist and was jeered by the New Left. This meeting took place on a campus in Berkeley and any "old timer" who couldn't grasp that no one was impressed with your bonafides, whatever they were, had enough problems. But Weinstein's bothered, in the book, by the non-embrace of the Soviet Union by the New Left. Quote from page 175: "Nor did New Leftists admire or respect the Soviet Union. On the contrary, they generally regarded it with indifferent repugance." Speaking only for myself, "So what?" Truly, so what? I really don't see that as an issue, Weinstein, coming from an earlier period, sees it as a tragedy. In the same section, he'll bemoan the youth of today for not dating their history further back than the early 20th century's labor battles. That's a bad thing? Has Weinstein ever sat in a public school class? Has he ever looked at a high school history text? If they can go that far back, praise be to them. He seems unable or unwilling to grasp that what, at his age, was recent history is now ancient history. If, as he suggests, today's high schoolers, and possibly college students, as a group, have a working knowledge of the early labor movement, a period of nearly 100 years ago, that's rather amazing.
He gets in broadsides, throughout the book, against feminism, gay rights and Black Power. At one point, he offers that they have an "aversion to universal principles". Whose principles? Whose universality? At 76 when the book was published, he's at least nostaligic for a period he came up in, as opposed to those nostaligic for a period that passed by before they came of age -- a true sickness. Equality is a universal principle unless you're bothered that other voices are steering attention away from you limited view that you pass off as "universal." He argues, at one point, that advances in civil rights would have come about due to the capitalistic nature of the system. That's probably very true, capitalism needs consumers and more and more consumers. That doesn't change the fact that a White male making that claim does so from a position of privilege. It's really easy to preach "eventually" when your own rights are already guaranteed. And other groups wanting a seat at the table isn't surprising.

Kat: I believe the guest on Guns and Butter, Loren Goldner, made a similar point but with regards to gays and lesbians. That big business needed new consumers.

C.I.: I was on the road and didn't hear it but, obviously, Disney's not going to embrace that aspect of their audience out of the goodness of their hearts. Corporate America's embrace has to do with seeking a new market and bringing in other classes, once kept out, to continue or strengthen the system. Which is really ironic because Big Business is not known for having a heart but, for its own self-interests, it's far more apt to include than some of our 'voices.' What you have, in some of the political system from the center to the left, is a bunch of little White, straight boys, who want to decide who gets in the clubhouse and which roles they can have? They want to decide what are the universal issues and somehow basic safety -- and let's be clear that safety is as much a concern to African-Americans today as it was in the 50s -- is never one of those issues. You see that reflected in the coverage of Iraq where there is this overwhelming silence on the very real attacks upon Iraqi women. It's been determined that those attacks are a "side issue." There are "larger" and more "universal" issues. What's happening and has happened to Iraqi women since the start of the illegal war is not a "side issue," it's very much the story of Iraq. Fairness and safety, in any society, are not "side issues." But for those who already have them, it's very easy to decry others seeking them. Which is what party organs masking as the press do repeatedly. I'm not talking about The Nation . . . not yet. But that thinking is not just the DLC. The DLC is far more open about it but it's equally true of some in the DNC, some in leadership. Another illustration of this is that you can count on one hand, with many fingers unneeded for the count, the number of Democratic presidential candidates right now who will issue a blanket statement on equality without being prompted to or forced to do so by outrage over their silence. The left and the Democratic Party are not synomous, though some, like Somerby, appear to believe they are or should be. Most of the ones making the "side issue" argument today from a position of minor power, a mini-platform, are Democrats and that's why they have such a hard time building a coalition. Labor can be waved at, but not embraced. African-Americans can come in . . . through the back door. Women can be praised . . . as mothers. The men attempting to lay down these guidelines generally came of age in the upheaval that smashed those guidelines in people's own personal spheres or they came of age after, so the nostalgia for a time they never knew is like a little kid watching The Waltons and saying, "Oh, I wish I could live through that!" The majority of the e-mails were specifically about Democrats. Only three of the fifteen were about Weinstein, do I have that right, Ty?, and he was a socialist.

Ty: Yeah that is the correct count. You basically answered something from each of the fifteen and I'm just trying to think now if there's any major point from them that you missed? We had one e-mail from a woman who identified as a lesbian and you touched on that, on Hillary and Barack's one day of silence, but could you expand on that, could you address gay rights?

C.I.: Sure and anyone else can jump in. The 'brave' ones who think they're doing the Lord's work with this debunk and that debunk don't bother to debunk the nonsense of the Democratic Party's silence on gay and lesbian issues. Larry Kramer, on Democracy Now!, spoke to that issue and it's really easy to dismiss that as "Oh, that's a gay issue." And those segretating may hope people will do so but the truth is there are a lot more people on the outs than on the ins with the Democratic Party. The desire to present their dream candidate, male, that they just know will wow 'em in the south is insulting to everyone including the south. But it's that desperate grip they have for the Big Daddy figure who's going to save them as opposed to building a working coalition. That's still the problem. Before Bill Clinton, it was quite common, in the wake of Poppy Bush's election for some to argue that the Dems would be the party of Congress but they could never have the White House. I'm referring to poli sci articles, not the popular press. And specifically thinking of two papers written by people I know. For too many with a say in determining the direction of the party, the answer, once Clinton was elected, was a charasmatic figure and not a party that could unite under truly universal principles such as fairness. That's something that the Republicans are better at because they set out to destroy a Democrats chance to be seen as charasmatic. Calling Bully Boy an "idiot" isn't a big deal. I'm not saying anyone shouldn't, but I'm saying they take the weakness and turn it into a "plus." Then they focus on tearing down the Democratic candidate, questioning the authenticity. Republicans, look at John McCain, are fond of making their "I made a foolish comment." Contrast that with John Kerry's embarrassing groveling in October of last year when he rightly noted that it wasn't 'the best and the brightest' that recruiters were targeting. Or look at Bully Boy's falling off whatever thing he's riding and it's a good laugh and what a 'guy' he is for even trying as opposed to the demonization of Kerry for wearing bicycle shorts, while cycling, or going wind surfing. Bob Somerby can play fact checker all he wants but he accomplishes very little and would even if everyone read him and followed his guidelines. He doesn't grasp it, he never has. This is the man who, in real time, dismissed the arrest record of the Bully Boy. It didn't matter, it didn't interest him. Well Bully Boy was arrested, had his license taken away, and never told the public, not even a year later when he's running for the US Congress. When found out, in 2000, he, or rather Karen Hughes, offers the lame excuse that he felt he had to keep quiet because he was worried about the example he was setting for his daughters. His daughters weren't around when he ran for the US Congress. Are we also to believe that he didn't confess to not completing his military service because he was worried Jenna and Barbara might sign up some day and think, "Oh, let's do like Daddy and just pack it in"? It goes to character and we're not talking about a private affair, we're talking about someone with an arrest record running for Congress shortly after and not saying one word to voters about it. The denial he's always lived in surrounds the White House today and to dimiss that, as Somersby did in real time, as unimportant is just nonsense. To tell CJR, as Somersby did after the 2004 election, that Al Gore had it worse and the press was much better in 2004 is ridiculous. The press runs with phoney terrorist alerts instead of questioning them, the press did not loudly condemn the band aids with little purple hearts colored on them -- at the RNC convention, The New York Times killed two stories that could have influenced the election -- two that are public knowledge, Matt Cooper kept silent about Karl Rove at a time when that could have mattered -- that Valerie Plame, an undercover CIA agent, was outed to him by the man running Bully Boy's re-election campaign, could have made a difference. And how about the lies, during that campaign, that Valerie Plame sent her husband on that mission? Lies which, correct me if I'm wrong, Bob Somerby presented as fact.

Jim: Okay, that covered a number of things, but just to deal with another aspect, address Somerby's knowledge because Jess had planned to but he's shaking his head that he doesn't want to speak right now.

C.I.: It all began with Clinton, that's the Somerby line. That is insane and ahistorical. One of the things that we've been doing is going through magazines . . . Let me stop a second. A big New York paper is telling lies, the big paper, about a war. Wounded vets are being neglected. Big Business is more interested in continuing the war than in ending it. Does that sound familiar? That's an editorial written near the end of the civil war. Almost any critique anyone can make, including me, about today's press has historical roots. Nothing began with Clinton other than Somerby's understanding. Jim brought that up because, back in December, public domain came up in a class [Jim was taking] and we were scouting for some images, never found any, that we could utilize from the 1800s press. To be fair, engravings were very intricate but they are nothing we'd want to utilize.

Jim: Right and we were pulling down bound volumes of old publications, many that had ceased publication, from C.I.'s book cases. And as we went through them, we could see the same criticisms that are made today being made then.

Dona: We actually did a class presentation, Jim and I, on that. Even with our visuals, people were shocked by how many similar critiques we could find. And it really does go to the argument that Jim's father makes which is that Watergate and the post-period was a blip for the mainstream press and not characteristic of the system itself.

Kat: And it's been noted here before that Jim's father is a reporter. But let me ask if I wrote anything I needed to take out?

Jim: No. Kat's referring to mentioning Dad in her post, my father, not her's, in her post on Saturday. Dad's thinking about moving out here and came to stay for a few weeks. He would want me to note a thank you to C.I. here so let me note that. But we, Dona and I, will be going to grad school out here and Dad's had an offer out here so he's thinking about moving out here.

Mike: West coast is what Jim means by "out here." And those of us particpating by phone are not "out there."

Jim: That is correct, Mike, thank you for the clarification.

Elaine: If I can plug Howard Zinn, and we all know I can, in A Power Governments Cannot Suppress, he has a column "Governments Lie" and he notes that one reason the people can be tricked into war is because we are so unaware, collectively, of how many times administrations have lied. I want to return to the issue of the 15 e-mails. And I especially want to note the idiotic comment by Somerby about 1968. "They," hippies "knew how to do it in 1968 and they sure know how to do it today," the grade school teacher types, his voice dripping with sarcasm.
If teacher's not aware, Bobby Kennedy was a presidential candidate and he was assassinated in 1968. I'm not really sure what can be blamed on 'hippies' when the strongest candidate is removed from the race. RFK had youth appeal and obviously the 'hippies' were not old at that time. So I'm really not sure how blaming Eugene McCarthy's defeat on the hippies helps anyone.

C.I.: It needs to be noted that the left establishment, while RFK was alive, was already endorsing McCarthy. The Progressive, for instance, was not a 'hippie' press. It's a nice rewriting, to pin McCarthy on the hippies, but, as is often the case with Somerby's 'knowledge' it's more gut-based than fact-based.

Elaine: Thank you. And it needs to be noted that the 'hippie press' was connecting the Watergate dots before Sy Hersh or Woodward and Bernstein.

C.I.: It also needs to be noted that the 1968 being decried is the last of the top-down decisions.
The selection process was changed after so that primaries became more important, allowing for less covention floor, back door deals. Since "hippies" were not a designated delegation to the 1968 Democratic convention, which went with Hubert Humphrey, it's ridiculous to use 1968 as an example of how "hippies" did damage to the Democratic Party. Ignoring the basic realities that even LBJ recognized, the party went with Humphrey who was too tied to the Johnson administration, Humphrey was vice-president, and, for the same reasons that LBJ grasped it would be a difficult campaign, ended up having a very rough campaign. Humphrey, and I'm boiling this down, was supporting the war and as Johnson's v.p., he was tied to it. Humphrey's loss is not a reflection on "hippies." It is a reflection of how a weak candidate can get the nomination when he's not tested -- Humphrey, pay attention kids, did not win a single primary because he did not enter one. This, and Daly's strong arming on the convention floor, is one of the main reasons that system was reformed. So why Somerby feels the need to toss out 1968 as a lesson in election politics and as an example of bad "hippies" is beyond me. Johnson dropped out because he knew he would lose. His vice president was made the nominee not by the people but by party bosses, after never running in a primary. His loss is an example of party hubris, of cronyism, but it's not a reflection on the "hippies." I thought Somerby was old enough to have lived through that moment in time. Maybe he was too busy turning on and tuning out to pay attention?

Rebecca: I'm really sorry that some "chic" didn't want to "ball" Somerby in the sixties, but he needs to get over the rejection. He who lectures others about accepting false terms and repeating them -- when it comes to former roommate Al Gore, at any rate -- is perfectly happy to smear and distort. "Hippie"? Now who uses that word with vennum? That would be the right that has been in backlash mode since the sixties. How nice of the educator to come along and do their work for them.

Elaine: Let me add I don't know if he taught grade school. I do know he writes like an education major -- sorry if I've offended anyone. Even general studies majors tended to do more research. In the libary, you could always tell who the education major was. He or she was the one who began dashing down notes from the first book opened and then quickly rushing out of the library, having performed their insta-research.

Dona: Let me go off topic and note that Rebecca and Elaine have long noted how C.I. can just pour into the research. I thought I understood that until I asked for help on a paper. This is the cross reference expert. In three hours, I had enough research for several papers. I still don't know how that happened.

Elaine: Don't try to. It's a gift. Rebecca and I would try to figure it out and never could. Some minor sentence or word will jog something and C.I.'s off and running. Reference librarians would stop at our table and ask C.I. for help.

Dona: Well I was told it was the best researched paper of the semester and had to fess up that I had help. That wasn't a problem but my professor did want to know how many hours we'd spent researching and was rather shocked to learn it was only three.

Cedric: I want that left in. You can strip out anything of mine for space, but I want that left in because it goes to the e-mailed question we were going to end with.

Ty: It really does so why don't you reply to that and Dona can look over the other topics and decide if anything needs to be touched on.

Cedric: The question was along the lines of what do you feel has been the best thing about all working together and what will you miss when the sites go dark? And that's what I'll miss. Obviously, C.I. is a wealth of information but that's true of everyone participating. First off, there's the fact that this is a diverse group in every way, racially, ethinically, region, go down the list. Secondly, you've got someone participating who will always have a different take or invert the conventional wisdom. You've got people who know a great deal about different areas.

Mike: I second that. I called this week during the snapshot, called C.I. and got asked, "Is this an emergency because I'm dictating the snapshot on the other phone?" I said no, don't worry about it. C.I. goes, "Since you're on the line, help me out who won the Superbowl?" That was my big contribution this week. Smiley face. [":D"] But really, in terms of politics or some big topic, absolutely, just participating opens up all this stuff. And if there's something one of us feels very strongly on, we all offer support.

Betty: We have each other's backs. That's what I'll probably miss the most. Not that we won't still speak and all but it's just, it'll be different. I mean, for one thing, can any of us imagine what it will be like to actually get sleep on the weekend? I swear, I'll have Dona in my dreams saying, "Watch the time!" and "Short pieces! Short pieces!"

Wally: Betty's a bit different from the rest of us because when she started her site that was a new thing, community wise. Rebecca had her site and she knew C.I. from college, this site started because Jim dragged C.I. back from a speech and got everyone -- Ava, Jess, Dona and Ty -- to work on it. But Betty was the first to really to start a site from within the community, on her own. Does that make sense?

Betty: Yeah, I get what you're saying. I was a community member and it was different maybe. And I really couldn't have done it without the support and encouragement I received. I was participating in editions here in the weeks leading up to starting my site and that was an eye opener. And I was also doing all these test posts and chapters. Which is a bit different than the way you started because you, and I think most others, just went up with your site.

Wally: And learned as we went. I'll note Betty was my big concern because I was going to be doing a humor site and didn't want to step on toes, she was already doing that. So I did make a point of e-mailing her and telling her what I was planning to be sure she was okay with it.

Betty: I wrote back, "Who do you think you are! How dare you!"

Wally: She's joking. She was really supportive and so, yeah, I think that's what Betty was talking about earlier and that'll be the thing I miss most about the editions.

Mike: On that topic, I remember a not so sharing time. We were all working on an edition and Jim and I both had stuff to do Sunday and wanted the edition over and over quick. C.I.'s stopping repeatedly to help some member set up a site and we're both, Jim and me, ragging about that and complaining. C.I.'s just saying stuff like, "If a member of the community asks for help, I will help." And we were just ragging still and saying that if they needed help, they should ask for some other time and any member of the community should know that Saturday nights are out of the question for help. So, to finish the story, it turned out that the site was Trina's Kitchen and, for anyone who doesn't know this, that's my mother's site. Boy, did I feel stupid. I'm not the most supportive, to be honest, and I still don't consider a late comer to the community a member, I'm speaking of one person -- someone who doesn't participate in these -- and it's not my mother. But everyone here was kind enough to let me interview them for my site. Betty is so funny and smart that I interviewed her twice. Betty's a very busy woman and if she could make room for me twice, then I don't have much use for a guy who strung me along an interview and then decided he didn't want to do it and didn't even have the guts to tell me but asked C.I. to pass it on.

Wally: That really pissed you off.

Mike: It really did. And like he had Cedric's name spelled wrong. He wanted us to note his posts and nobody in the community has ever, I mean maybe it happened and I didn't know it, but nobody's ever asked me, "Mike, can you cut me a link?" But this guy was just e-mailing everytime he posted, to all of us, he copied the same e-mail to all of us, saying, "This is what I wrote and this is what I want you to quote." So I really, honestly, despise that guy. He wasn't a member of the community until he wanted to start a site and he never linked to any of our writing. But he thought it was his right to get all of us to link to his writing every time he posted something.

Cedric: I agree with you, Mike, and my attitude was, "You've never linked to anything I've written, you've mispelled my name, your link to Betty's site doesn't even work, who are you to ask anything from the community?"

Betty: Well, Kat, are they done?

Kat: No. Dona, Jim and Ty are huddled over the list of topics and we're filling time while they figure out what to keep or not to. Ava and C.I. are taking down the transcript of everything's that's being said. Joni Mitchell's For The Roses is playing right now. Earlier it was Judy Collins' In My Life. I'm blanking on what the CD was before that.

Mike: It was Yell Fire by Franti and Spearhead.

Betty: Okay, well, if we have time, the point I was going to make was we should mention Folding Star who ran the site A Winding Road.

Rebecca: That came along after mine and after The Third Estate Sunday Review but before Betty's. Folding Star covered the Senate and books. And then Folding Star folded shop and I think that was the first indication to us that, "Hey, this thing really does have an ending." Mike had started his site and Kat may have started her's. But Cedric, Wally, Elaine and Trina had yet to start their sites.

Betty: That really was a shock. Older members always ask, "Would you do that?" About deleting the site. Because Folding Star both stopped blogging and deleted A Winding Road. I wouldn't. There's no guarantee that Google will keep it up forever or that it won't decide to get rid of sites that haven't updated. However, I have no plans to delete it when I'm done.

Mike: I'd be mad if Google deleted mine. I'm not about to waste paper printing up each entry but I wonder if there's a way to save it to disc? I really would like to know that it's always around to look at because there's a lot of stuff up there that really charts important times in my life and things I want to remember.

Dona: At this site, I would absolutely want to save our editorials and all of Ava and C.I.'s TV commentaries.

Jim: We're back. Okay, Ty, Dona and I discussed it and Jess' attitude is "I don't want to say a word." Jess is very upset over B.S. Somerby's insulting trash and we understand and respect that but were attempting to figure out what there was that we could go out on so the ending wasn't abrupt? We were willing to drop all the topics but one and that's what we'll go with. Born in this country and first generation, with parents from Iraq, an e-mailer wondered if we could toss around any possible reasons for why Iraqis are of so little concern "to politicians and most people?"

Betty: Well, we don't have a count of how many died. I think that's a starting point. I accept the Lancet's count as valid. But when the government, the US government, makes the decision that they're not going to keep a count -- or more likely that they were keeping a count all along and not sharing it -- you've already set the stage for lives being worth "less than." And it's equally true that before the war broke out many of us were ignorant of Iraq and that allowed for a lot of demonization to take place. So I would offer those are two of the starting points.

Mike: There's also the whole thing of blaming the Iraqis because the US backed, supported and created puppet regime hasn't -- big surprise -- led to peace. There's this blaming of Iraqis for what 'their government' -- which isn't their government -- didn't do. That's rooted in the myth that there were free and fair elections and let me hold my ink stained finger to the camera. There was voter suppression and voter fraud as well as people who elected not to vote because they were not going to validate the occupation. A lot of people either don't grasp that or do not want to know about it and that ignorance allows for the blaming of Iraqis. And there's the whole 'other' thing which allowed them to be treated or seen as children so you've got the, "Why won't they grow up!" crowd.

Wally: The resistance was ignored, armed resistance or peaceful resistance. It wasn't the subject of major coverage and tell me a war where the quote "enemy" was judged that unimportant? But as polls of Iraqis have consistently demonstrated the resistance at large, the peaceful resistance, wants the US out of their country. With regards to the armed resistance, it's a lot easier to dispense them, and the press does, as al Qaeda. By not exploring the resistance and the root causes of it, it's allowed a "Some people will never be grateful!" attitude to creep in.

Cedric: I'm not sure how long this is going to go, and I'm not trying to stop it, but I just realized that something was left out.

Jim: What's that?

Cedric: The SDS piece.

Jim: Good point. We sold this roundtable on the grounds that we would address that. C.I.?

C.I.: Sorry. I was touching on that and didn't underscore it. Like Weinstein, Christopher Phelps, the author of the bad piece in the April 16th edition of The Nation, offers up a revisionist look at the SDS while claiming others are offering revisionist looks. Old school Marxists never cared for the original SDS, forget the Weatherman and the Weather Underground for a minute. The article was going to be a trashing as soon as it was assigned, and probably why it was assigned. The fact that he didn't attend the meetings that he is reporting on didn't prevent Phelps from stating what he was told happened and presenting it as fact. That's an interesting way of sourcing. As evidenced by the recent past coverage, The Nation doesn't like the SDS because it's not a body that's taking orders from a Democratic institute or party. They're happy to do their puff pieces on 'youth' orgs -- usually while failing to note the magazine's connection to them -- that are electoral politics extensions. It's farm labor for campaigns and I'm tossing to Mike for a comment or two or three or more.

Mike: I know why. We're tired of it. On my campus, on Wally's, we're tired of it. On campuses across Texas, we heard that during the week we spent there last month. These big monied backed 'student' organizations that exist solely to provide free labor to political campaigns. You want to work on a campaign, free or paid, for yourself, do it. But don't do it for an organization that's just using you.

Betty: Jumping in. At my work, we're encouraged to donate to charities. They make it really easy to have something withheld from each check and go straight to a charity. Now you might think that's a good thing and they care so much about charity. They don't. What it allows is for the company -- which gives nothing to charity -- to use the workers contributions and announce, each Christmas, "We gave X to ___." No, "we" didn't. The workers did. The company gave zilch. But that's not how it gets reported. While I do give to charity, I do not do so through my company because I'm not going to have that company use me as free advertising to present themselves as a caring organization.

Mike: Betty just explained what I was stumbling around. If you believe in a candidate and want to work for him, do so. But, and this was true of one of The Nation supported groups that they profiled awhile back, the reality is those groups then brag that they provided X number of students doing free labor. They're using you to be players and to buy influence. Don't allow them to do so. As the cry at Wally's university has been, "What the hell have you done?" The leaders don't break their butts working on campaigns, they send the 'flunkies,' the members, to do the work and then they strut around proud of what 'they' accomplished. Don't let yourself be used. If you're for Dennis Kucinich or Hillary Clinton or whomever, absolutely give your time, if you can. But do it as the individual you are and not as part of some sweat shop labor for a big-monied backed, so-called 'student' organization. You're being used and taken for a ride but somebody's got to pay Mad Maddie's speaking fee.

C.I.: So the article's nonsense. It was nonsense before a word was written, I'm basing that on two friends who were interviewed for the article and told me there was an axe to grind. But SDS was never going to get a fair shake, forget the offshoots, from The Nation. The group is
too independent and it's not easily co-opted. No one's going to show up to cheer people who've made a point to ignore Iraq but think a flashy appearence on campus is just "the thing to do." SDS is not the only organization of students, politically active students, who have had it with that nonsense but they are the biggest name, partly due to their growing number and partly due to the historic name, so The Nation was going to slam it. It's a cute little slam, nothing else. Not even a clever slam. Statements are made, repeatedly, that can't be backed up. Stating what people can define requires, especially in what is presented as reporting and not opinion, having surveyed the members. The article should have come with editorial/advisory bylines.

Dona: Jim mentioned that the roundtable was sold on addressing the article and he's referring to the fact that we planned to address the article in a feature. C.I. outlined some rough points and Elaine expanded on them. We were circulating those during the week when Bernadine Dohrn's "The New and Old SDS: Convergence Not Division" went up at CounterPunch. She said everything that needed to be said in an article. We're winding down but I'll toss to Elaine for any further thoughts on The Nation's slam book piece.

Elaine: C.I. and I were discussing this for some time. Wondering how bad the piece was going to be when it was published, wondering who was cooperating and who felt used? And the thing that we kept coming back to was "Jesus, don't these people ever move on?" The piece is about settling old grudges. Now I can understand carrying a grudge against Richard Nixon or Henry Kissinger. In relation to the power they had and the abuse they did, I could understand that grudge being carried for some time. But what you've got are the whiners who thought in the "sixties" that they should be leading a movement because they'd been in the wings for two or three decades -- doing little, but they were in the wings, waiting for someone else to do something so they could swoop in as leaders -- and the then contemporary group like Toad -- whose authortarian and sexist streaks combined to derail what he thought should have been his birth right. Well it wasn't. Now I said that three years ago to a Toadling and was informed that, having money, I had no right to say that, because "some people" had to fight for recognition. If, all these years later, all you have to point to with pride in your life, is something from decades ago, I guess it is true that you would nurse a grudge every day. But really, "Glory Days" is a wonderful song, by Bruce Springsteen, but who would want to live it? The present should always be much more interesting. If it's not, something's lacking in your life.

C.I.: I want to add something quickly. If B.S. is referring to the riots of 1968, he's quite right to call them out, we should all call them out and let me go on record stating that the rioting and attacks on citizens by the police were shameful. If he's referencing the riots, I'm sure he's not talking about those but those were the shocking and disgusting riots. Not a group of kids running around smashing a few windows but the riots broadcast on live TV of the police attacking citizens with Daley's full endorsement.

Jim: And that's going to end this roundtable. We answered what we could.
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
Poll1 { display:none; }